Sifnos: The Cyclades’ Stairway to Heaven

By Aurelia Smeltz Of all the islands in the Western Cyclades, some say Sifnos may be the most “spiritual.” There is a church with fresco interiors where it is said angels come to sing before the priest starts his service, there is a bay so serene it appears to kneel before you, and there is a stairway beside a brilliant, white-washed monastery that is rumored to lead to, well… heaven.

And all of these enchanting places are easily accessible from Dina’s Rooms in the islands’ main port of Kamaras. Dina’s rooms are on a horseshoe-shaped bay on the quiet side of the gentle body of brilliant blue-green water. It is a perfect setting for those wanting peace and solitude, but just a short walk to the shops and tavernas and the bus stop across the bay. During the day, one can sunbathe on the veranda (or on the nearby beach or rocks just minutes away) and in the evening it is pleasant to view the bright lights of the tavernas and the famous “Captain’s Bar,” on the other side. Yachtsmen come from all over Greece to have a drink with the captain and party into early morning hours. Guests at Dina’s are happy they are on the opposite side of the bay!

The Arguras Restaurant and Taverna is next to Dina’s Rooms and it is without a doubt the best restaurant in Kamaras and one of the best dining spots on the entire island. Fresh fish is served daily and the catch comes directly from the morning boats. Arguras, the owner, will grill a fish to perfection and his wife, Stella, makes a variety of Greek specialties for the afternoon and evening meals. Guests are invited into the kitchen to make their selections.

Sifnos is a mountainous island with small valleys filled with olive and almond trees and numerous beaches with thin, golden sand. It has a triangular shape of seventy-four square miles and a perimeter of twenty-eight miles.

Kamaras is centrally located and a bus near the newsstand will take one to many points, including the port of Faros, within ten to twenty minutes. Photographers come from all over the world to take pictures of the famous monasteries, particularly the Monastery of Panaghia Chryssopighi, a magnificent snow-white structure with the stairway to heaven. It sits dramatically on a rock that some say was split during a miracle performed by the Virgin Mary, patron saint and protector of the island.

Sifnos is approximately five hours by boat from Piraeus, and the trip is shorter by Flying Dolphin. Connections can be made easily to the nearby islands of Paros, Syros, Kythnos, Serifos, Folegandros, Sikonos, and Thera. Boats also leave regularly for Santorini, Crete, Ios, and the Dodecanese.